What is consciousness, where is it located in the brain? Recent scientific research may provide possible answers. There are several definitions of consciousness, but the most accepted one is that it is awareness. When a being becomes aware of itself and its surroundings, then, it is a sign of consciousness.Awareness is an outcome of thought. The thinking brain makes us aware of our existence and externalities. If we understand what is thought and where it resides in the brain, we could solve the mystery of consciousness.Thought is produced when brain neurons fire. There are close to 100 billion neurons in the brain. For simple thoughts – like asking what is the colour of a flower or requesting someone to open the door – a small portion of neurons fire. But in deep Samadhi, which produces Sanyam – combination of concentration and contemplation on a single subject or object – almost all neurons fire, to produce a deep thought.Activation of neural pathways triggers the firing of neurons. This activation takes place either by signals from sense organs or stimulation of a certain memory space in the brain. Neural pathways help neurons to communicate with each other.During this communication, an electrical signal from a neuron is converted into chemicals (neurotransmitters) and transmitted across the synaptic cleft to another neuron where it is again converted to an electrical signal for the onward journey.Scientists have shown that the conversion of an electrical signal to chemicals and then again to an electrical signal, produces weak photons, possibly in the synaptic cleft. I conjecture that these photons from a large number of neural pathways synchronise to form a three-dimensional hologram, which we can call a thought. In nature, a similar thing takes place when fireflies spontaneously synchronise their glow to create a signal pattern.These signals – firing of neurons or fireflies glowing – synchronise spontaneously since they are influenced by each other via a positive feedback-type mechanism. For example, in the case of fireflies, this feedback is through their light signals, where they adjust their phases so that theysynchronise.
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